Study Guide

Howards End Chapter 18

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Chapter 18

  • At Aunt Juley's house, Margaret receives a letter from Mr. Wilcox, saying that he's leaving his house in London – would the Schlegels like to rent it? If she's interested, she should come back to London right away to look at it.
  • Margaret wonders if this is actually a veiled attempt to get her to London so he can propose marriage.
  • Margaret presents the option of the Wilcoxes' house to her family. They are uncertain and argumentative, as usual. Tibby still doesn't really get the Wilcoxes and their importance.
  • Margaret bemoans the difficulties they're having, saying that their father, who moved from Germany, never had such petty troubles. Aunt Juley corrects her, saying that they can't remember how difficult it was for their parents to move into Wickham Place – houses, apparently, always cause trouble.
  • Margaret ends up going to London by herself to look at the house. She's worried that she's being a crazy spinster for thinking about the potential marriage proposal.
  • Mr. Wilcox meets her at the station, and she can immediately tell that something's up. He's super-sensitive today.
  • Mr. Wilcox seems kind of peevish – he complains of being lonely because Evie is always out with her fiancé. Margaret off-handedly comments that she's also lonely, and he seizes upon this. We begin to think that she's not so crazy after all – maybe a proposal is coming her way?
  • Margaret is impressed and a little put off by Mr. Wilcox's way of going through life without bothering to investigate the personal or private things that distract her so often.
  • She likes him nonetheless, and even finds him attractive, in his way.
  • The car is full of unspoken emotion – of some kind – and Margaret senses again that something's up with her companion.
  • They arrive at the Wilcoxes' house on Ducie Street, and go through the whole thing; Margaret wants to look over it before she can report back to Tibby and Helen.
  • The house exudes an air of masculine power – and colonial, capitalist power. Margaret loves it.
  • Finally, after they're done with the house, Mr. Wilcox does as expected: he pops the question. It's truly unromantic.
  • All the same, Margaret is suddenly, amazingly happy. Overwhelmingly so. But she reins in her emotions and tells Mr. Wilcox that she will answer him by letter.
  • Margaret goes home to Wickham Place and thinks over her proposal. She's been asked to marry men before, but none of them have ever had a chance. It seems that Margaret might actually be… in love.
  • She hasn't made up her mind, but it seems to us like she's going to accept. She has a rather odd attitude towards him – she doesn't want to push him to be emotional or overwhelm him with her emotions, since he's old and set in his ways.
  • Margaret feels the friendly presence of Mrs. Wilcox, her predecessor, who seems to approve. Creepy.

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